The BUROKER family entered the DENT family line through DOROTHY JANE BAXTER, wife of DONALD R. DENT, Sr. Her mother was CLAUDIA CECIL BUROKER, the only daughter of JONAS BUROKER.
The Burokers were of German descent, and were among those who immigrated to America from the Palatinates of Western Germany, in the 1700’s. These Germans settled mostly in Eastern Pennsylvania, many around Bucks County. Beginning in the 1730’s, through the 1790’s after the Revolutionary War, many German families migrated to Western Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia. The Burokers, tradition has it, came to America about 1741. They settled in the Shenandoah Valley in Page County of Western Virginia.
The following is a biographical sketch of DAVID BUROKER, the Great Grand Father of DOROTHY JANE BAXTER. It was written in 1893, and published in a local newspaper in Walla Walla, Washington. It provides some details of his life.
“DAVID BUROKER: In the list of early pioneers [of Walla Walla] who crossed the plains in 1864, enduring all the hardships and privations incident to frontier life in any new country occurs the name of David Buroker. Mr. Buroker was born in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, Dec. 17, 1818, and although, now 75 years of age, bears his years in a wonderful manner being as active and energetic as many who have not much more than reached the prime of life. [David Buroker died Nov. 17, 1902]
He attends to his extensive farming interests and gives every promise of living to be an hundred. His father, Martin Buroker, was a native of Virginia, of German parentage, while his mother, Ellen Griffith, a native of Virginia, was of Welsh descent. In 1834, some time after their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. [Martin] Buroker moved to Ohio, remaining in that state until their death, the father passing away in 1854 at an advanced age, his wife having preceded him many years before. They were the parents of 18 children, of whom our subject was 3rd youngest.
Our subject did not enjoy very extensive educational advantages, but made the most of the opportunities afforded by the little schools of his county attending when unpropitious weather interfered with farm work. In 1856, Mr. Buroker removed to Missouri, remained there 3 years, then proceeded to [Davis County] Iowa, where he remained until 1864, when he crossed the plains to Washington Territory consuming 6 months in making the trip [April to September 1, 1864]. Being pleased with the country near Walla Walla, he located there on rented land, which he farmed for one year. He then removed to Willamette valley [Linn County, Oregon] where he remained 3 years on rented land. After this he returned to Walla Walla, purchased on Mill Creek, 160 acres, which he afterward sold and bought 240 acres which he subsequently disposed of and in this way dealt in real estate until soon he was possessed of sufficient means to permit the retaining of 500 acres of excellent land he now owns situated 7 miles northeast of Walla Walla [one of these holdings was the George Evans Homestead of 160 acres]. He also owns 120 acres near [the] city itself. So large is his estate that 4 country roads and 2 railroads pass thru it, something that can be said of no other farm in the State. Of course all this has made his property exceedingly valuable.
Our subject was married in Ohio to Miss Sarah Jenkins [17 Dec 1826/ 7 Sep 1896, married 1843], a native of that state, and of this union 7 children have been born, namely: Jonas [1845/1924, wife was Josephine Patterson, 1856/1943, married 1877] who resides on Mill Creek (oldest of the family); Mary Ann, wife of John Crawford, resides in Idaho; Louisa, wife of Jacob Kibler [Kibler bought Jonas’ land after his death in 1924], resides on Mill Creek; Ellen, wife of S.C. Williams, resides on Dry Creek [Dry Creek is North, and Mill Creek begins Northeast of, and runs through, Walla Walla, Southwesterly]; Noah residing on Dry Creek; William H. [1856/1902. Died 15 days before his father. Wife was May Gallagher] who also resides on Dry Creek; Etta, wife of James Patterson, residing with her parents has 2 bright children, Judson and Bessie.
In politics Mr. Buroker is a staunch Republican steadfastly upholding the principles of his party. Altho a very poor man when he started to earn his own livelihood our subject was grown to be one of the wealthiest farmers in Walla Walla County. Throughout the entire County, Mr. Buroker is esteemed and respected and parents urge their youngsters to emulate his example in fighting the world and its temptations. In spite of many misfortunes that attended his early efforts Mr. Buroker has never allowed himself to become discouraged by patiently labored on and now reaps the results of his labors.”
The following is brief biographical sketch of Jonas Buroker, as published in “The History of Walla Walla County” by Prof. W.D. Lyman, 1901. Jonas owned three homesteads at that time. The certificates for two are still in the family. One certificate was originally issued to George A. Evans, January 15, 1875, for 161.75 acres, and signed by U.S. Grant. The other was issued to Jonas Buroker, February 10, 1881, for 120 acres, and signed by Rutherford B. Hayes. The Bio reads as follows:
“J. BUROKER, a farmer, residing five and a half miles east of Walla Walla, was born in [Champaign County] Ohio, January 18, 1845. He lived there until twelve years old, then moved with the remainder of the family to Montgomery County, Missouri, whence three years later, he went to [Davis County] Iowa. He was a resident of that state until April, 1864, then set out across the plains with [ox] teams to Walla Walla. He remained here from the time of his arrival [September 1, 1864] until September, 1865, when he went to Linn county, Oregon, where the ensuing three years passed. Returning then [1868/69] to this county, he took a homestead and purchased a quarter section of land on Mill Creek, not far from his present place of abode. In June, 1883, he bought the farm on which he now lives. He is the owner of three hundred and seventy five acres of fine land, and is engaged principally in producing [winter] wheat. An industrious, progressive, enterprising man, he stands well in the community in which he resides, though he does not seem to be specially ambitious for personal preferment, or leadership among his confreres. He was married in Walla Walla County, December 9, 1877, to Miss Josephine Patterson, also a pioneer of the west, and they have one child, Claudia.”
Claudia (also know as “Becky”) related that the Vigilantes in Walla Walla had asked Jonas to join them. This was during the late 1860’s and early 1870’s, at a time of extensive lawlessness in the town and county, involving thievery, muggings, cattle rustling, gambling, parlor and “bawdy” houses. Jonas abhorred these activities, but refused to join. He felt that Law, order and justice should prevail, which stance could have been construed as condemnation of the Vigilantes methods. However, the Vigilantes never held Jonas’ non-involvement attitude against him. Jonas may have leaned to the Quaker Teachings, one of which was non-violence. He did not publicly support either side in the Civil War, though a Republican. Jonas was known for his kindness and humanity. During harvest, as one story goes, one Indian family, who lived near the “Ranch”, had a habit of always arriving at noon time, just as dinner was being laid out for the threshing crews. Jonas would always invite them to eat. Once, a couple of the Hands objected to sitting at the same table with Indians. Jonas fired them on the spot.
Over one part of Jonas’ land, the “South Forty” as it was called, the old Nez Perce [Indian] Trail crossed. This trail had been used by the Indian tribes for many generations. Nothing would ever grow on that trail and can still be seen today. Jonas never interfered with the Indians using that trail. He always made them welcome on the Ranch. During periodic raids by the Indians, in the late 1800’s, they never bothered his ranch, although they burned buildings and crops of his neighbors. Jonas retired from farming in 1921, and moved to town. He died at daughte Claudia’s home on Estrella Avenue, in Walla Walla, after a short illness, January 21, 1924.
Jonas’s wife was JOSEPHINE PATTERSON, born 13 September 1856, in Dubuque, Iowa. Her parents, A.B. and Cynthia Ann (Page) Patterson, both natives of Ohio, moved to Iriquois County, Illinois, in the early 1850’s, where two sons (Nathan A. and James) were born, then to Dubuque in 1856. The Patterson family, with eight children, arrived in Walla Walla in 1870. Family tradition records that they took the train to San Francisco [the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads had completed the transcontinental connection in May, 1869]. They then took a ship to Astoria, Oregon, and up the Columbia River, to near The Dalles, then overland to Walla Walla. Josephine (also known as “Momma Josie”) often recalled how seasick she was during the voyage from San Francisco. After Jonas’ death in 1924, Josephine purchased a house on Chestnut Street in Walla Walla, where she lived until her death, February 17, 1943.
CLAUDIA CECIL BUROKER (25 Feb 1885/25 Feb 1957) married Oscar Baxter in 1901 or 1902, in Walla Walla. She divorced him before World War I. Baxter died 13 July 1923. He was one of 11 children born in Illinois, to Thomas Jefferson Baxter and Rosalia Ambrosius (married 15 Feb 1866, in Illinois). Thomas J. Baxter had been in Company C, Third Missouri Cavalry during the Civil War.
CLAUDIA married her childhood sweetheart, Russell Richard Lowe (29 Jan 1885/29 Oct 1939), on 19 Nov 1919, and honeymooned in Seattle. Russell’s father was Alfred T. Lowe, born 1844 in St. Louis, and mother was Mary Agnus Lowe, born 1852 in Lost River, Canada. Alfred was a Dray owner and driver in Walla Walla. Russell ran a Cab Company during the 1920’s, and was a mechanic. Russell died in 1939 of [UU1]heart failure. Claudia sold her home on Estrella Avenue in 1944, and moved to Spokane to be with her daughter DOROTHY JANE (BAXTER) DENT and family. Claudia died in 1957 after suffering about a year with cancer.
In 1938, DOROTHY DENT wrote a brief description of the Buroker trek across the plains, as had been related to her by her grandfather, JONAS BUROKER. Following is this story:
“[The] Indians were on the warpath, spreading death and destruction across the Great Plains east of the Rockies, in April 1864, when my grandfather, Jonas Buroker, then a youth of 19, left with his parents, Sarah and David Buroker, his home in Iowa. There were seven children in the family, and my grandfather, the oldest, drove an ox team and took his place with the men of the wagon train in defending his belongings from marauding Indians.
“In the train were six families, all from Iowa. Two were named Calvert, and others were DeHaven, Williams, Long and Buroker. Long was the Captain and led the emigrants to the banks of the Missouri where they were to ferry on a makeshift affair. Its operation was slow, and the long line of wagons – many had arrived before the Iowa group of which my grandfather was a member – kept the later arrivals several days on the eastern bank of the stream.
“Traveling slowly westward with their ox teams, the caravan arrived at the Bear Creek trading post. [I have been unable to determine the exact location of this outpost.] That night a scout rode in, spreading the word that the Indians were on the warpath and advising the newcomers to join other wagon trains there in the camp to band against the redmen.
“Fires of the Indians could be seen in the distance at night, and although close guard was kept every night, and every precaution was taken to make a strong show of force, the Indians attacked the second night after their arrival and two men were killed before the tribesmen were beaten back.
“Several days later it appeared safe for the emigrants to move westward again, and the Iowa crowd was joined by several more families coming to Washington and Oregon. When they arrived at the Platte River, they made rafts to ferry their wagons and families across, and the menfolk swam the livestock over. This they did with great difficulty and again turned their faces toward the west.
“Signs of Indian depredations, attacks and murders were plentiful on the prairie and several places my grandfather saw where the Indians had attacked wagon trains, killed the people, burned the wagons and run off the livestock and any loot they could carry.
“One day, one of the scouts noticed they were being followed by a group of Indians. After they had camped for the night, the Indians came to their fires, apparently peaceful, and handed over a note saying they should be given bread. Thinking they might please the redmen and gain peaceful passage, they gave them bread, but the Indians, scowling and criticizing, intimated they did not like the looks of it, and spit on it and threw it on the ground. However, the Indians made no hostile demonstration and soon went away.
“Several days later a band of Indians passed the wagon train, driving a large band of horses and carrying poles from which hung several fresh scalps. My grandfather learned later the Indians killed some white people which had been following, scalped them, burned their wagons and stole their animals.
“When the train in which my grandfather rode reached Boise, Idaho, they traded their oxen for horses to make the last portion of their trip to Washington. The Calvert, Williams and Buroker families came to Walla Walla, arriving in September, 1864, and took up homesteads there. That taken by my grandfather’s parents was about five miles east of Walla Walla on what is now the Dixie Highway. It is still being farmed, although the original house and other farm buildings no longer are standing, trees planted in the yard in the early days are still there. There are two Calverts and one Buroker still living out of the six families who came to Walla Walla, Wash., in 1864.”
Jonas was only a lad of 19 years while involved in this adventure.
On the plains he carried a muzzle-loading rifle and pistol, and a shot pouch with a powder horn. All these items are still in the family.
Walla Walla, when the Burokers arrived, was a roaring mining and cattle town that had only been in official existence for 5 years. It consisted of about 100 log and slab buildings and tents, situated along, in, and astride a mud track, called “Nez Perce Street”, later named “Main Street”, which ran southwesterly to the (New) Fort Walla Walla Cantonment. The New Cantonment had been built in the winter of 1857/58 to replace old Fort Walla Walla that had been burned down by Indians in the Indian Wars of 1853-55. The old Fort had been at the juncture of the Columbia and Walla Walla Rivers near Wallula.
Discovery of gold in 1860 on the Clearwater River in Idaho Territory and the “Rush” to that “Eldorado” in 1861, established Walla Walla as a supply center. Discovery of gold near Boise in the late fall of 1862, temporarily slowed progress in Walla Walla, until another discovery was made in the Kootenai area near the headwaters of the Columbia River. This produced another rush in the spring of 1865. In 1864, it had been discovered that the uplands around Walla Walla would produce high yields of winter wheat. One report was 33 bushels to the acre. There was a drought in 1864/65, but it is not known if this led the Burokers to their decision to go to Linn County. They had rented land in 1864/65, but upon returning in 1868, purchased and homesteaded. The land they homesteaded on Mill Creek never yielded less than 60 bushels to the acre.
THE VIGILANTES formed an important part of in the taming of the West**, although they, themselves, were outside the law, what little law there was. Their “work” in Walla Walla can be briefly described in the following excerpt from Prof. Lyman’s “History of Walla Walla County”:
“No period in the early history of Walla Walla is more thrilling in character and incident than the time when the Vigilantes were in their glory. Like every other city of the northwest in those days, Walla Walla had its quota of gamblers, thieves, and general toughs. The courts soon became powerless to cope with the evil doers. There were regular gangs of cattle thieves organized, who would operate much in this manner: some one of the gang would start a bunch of cattle away to a certain point, where another lay in wait, who would drive them on to still another relay, and so they would keep them in motion until they were clear out of the country. It became almost impossible to run down the thieves, and when caught, there were so many of their own number to witness in their favor that it was next to impossible to secure conviction. In 1864 and 1865 the Vigilantes organized, then came a reign of terror to the evil doer. It suddenly seemed as though nature had granted trees a new and startling fruit, for it became a very common thing to see dead men’s bodies dangling from limbs. In one month during the busy season thirty-two men were reported as having been mysteriously hanged. The common expression as men met on the streets on a morning was, “Well, whom have we for breakfast this morning?” And it was a rare thing when some unfortunate’s name was not served up for discussion as having suffered the vengeance of the dread society. There was no escaping its clutches when once it wet its seal upon a man. As one old-timer expresses it, “There was only one way to get out of their hands, when once they had started for you, and that was to literally fly”.”
An article from the October 28, 1864, Walla Walla Statesman, gives a tongue-in-cheek view of the general lawlessness in which the courts seemed to do little other than fine the transgressor:
As the “Luxury” of shooting at and shooting men in Walla Walla, has become, so to speak, a merchantable affair, we deem it our duty as public journalists to keep our patrons posted upon the price of the “article”. The prices are set by the District Court, and as will be seen by our classification – made from actual cases “sold” at the present tem of the Court – they are governed according to the nearness to which the shots reach the “center”:
Class 1.- For shooting at a man and missing him, on the old battle-ground, corner of Main and Third Streets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$20
Class 2.- For shooting a man on same battle-ground and breaking his right arm – compelling him to use his left, and in an attempt to raise his pistol to apply the lex talionis, causing him to shoot an ox . . . . . . . . . . . .. .$100*
*(Shot No. 2, when first brought into the market was considered a “crack” one, and price was fixed at $500, but spectators got hold of it, and upon their presentation that it was fired under “peculiar circumstances” it rapidly depreciated to the figure of one hundred dollars)
Class 3.- For shooting a man in the breast and neck and killing him almost instantly – within thirty yards of the same battle-ground – and for scaring the Judge (who happened to be passing by just as the shots were fired) “within an inch of his life” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $1000
These prices, let it be recollected are the greenback rates, and poor shots, therefore are considered in the market, as scarcely worth a “continental”.
Provided by Don Dent